The American Presidency

The American Presidency

The American Presidency

The American Presidency

Synopsis

This is a thoroughly revised, in-depth analysis of the American presidency by a major scholar in the field. The main goal of the text is to explain how the president's ability to implement policy is circumscribed by several major factors: *the Madisonian separation of powers; *the decentralized power structure in Congress; *the number of cross-party coalitions needed to pass legislation; *a slow-moving federal bureaucracy; and *the powerful influence of special interest groups opposed to many presidential initiatives.

Excerpt

Since publication of the first edition of this textbook, the Cold War has ended, the Soviet Union has disintegrated into a shadow of its former greatness, President Ronald Reagan has retired from office, the one-term presidency of George Bush is now history, and President Bill Clinton is already in his third year of his first term that, unless he can reverse his downward spiral in the opinion polls, threatens to be his only term in the White House.

In the 1994 off-year elections, Republicans regained control of both houses of Congress for the first time in forty years. After two short years of "unified" government -- one party controlling both the executive and legislative branches -- the nation has again reverted to the divided government that existed for twenty out of twenty-four years between 1968 and 1992.

Does the sudden resurgence of Republicans in Congress herald, as suggested by some political analysts, the return of Congressional dominance of the national government that persisted for most of the nineteenth century and surfaced again briefly in the Harding-Coolidge-Hoover era of the 1920s? This seems unlikely, for as explained in the first edition, the presidency remains the vital nerve center of the federal government. Indeed, whenever an international crisis erupts, endangering the security of the United States and its allies, or a domestic emergency upsets the daily lives of American citizens, the public first turns to the president to find a solution. Without question, the list of public expectations and demands placed upon the president has grown at such a frightening pace over the years that no president seems able to satisfy a majority of American citizens.

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